March 18, 2020

Good morning! How’s the toilet paper holding out?

One bit of sobering news came from the New York Times this morning. This story reports that the U.S. virus plan predicts 18 months of a pandemic and shortages. Well, that took my breath away (or was it this chest cold I have?) Anyway, Rudyard Kipling’s poem If came to mind, particularly these lines:

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’”

I’ll be blunt. Things aren’t going back to normal anytime soon. In fact, this is now normal. So if you’re freaking out now, you’ll run out of energy for when you need it. It’s like eating all your pandemic food on the first day you have to work at home. Just like food and toilet paper, you have to ration your energy, too. You have to flatten the other curve.

For example:

If you want to reduce the transmission of societal freaking out, you have do your part. Help others in need. Practice social distancing to give our health care system (and COVID-19 patients a chance). Take positive action. What’s that mean? Use your time and energy wisely. After about four days of thinking I needed to correct every wrong fact I saw on Facebook, I just started snoozing people who are spreading conspiracies and false information — call it social media distancing. I’ll see how they’re doing in 30 days. Correcting people who are processing information in a different way was not a good way for me to use my time — and energy. I will instead get out positive, useful information myself. And I’ll use this time trapped in my room to take care of a few things that have needed to be done (and thankfully, I can draw anywhere). My son, who is 19 and at times much wiser than I am, came in and told me he was going to use this time to plan and prepare for the time after the virus. Rudyard Kipling would approve of that attitude.

P.S. Don’t say, “Calm down!” After 26 years of marriage, I can tell you for a fact, that phrase NEVER works.


Restaurants, bars, theaters and other places where we as humans like to gather are on the front lines of the battle. I wrote this the other day about a recent lunch I had with a friend:

A couple of weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend at one of our favorite restaurants. The manager asked me if I thought the COVID-19 thing was real. I said yes. Then I said, and we’re all going to have to pivot and change how we do things. I said, “You are surrounded by lots of houses full of hungry people. They may not be able to get to your restaurant but if you can get your food to them, you’ll stand a chance.”

That seems like a million years ago.

I hoped I was wrong. Everyday that passes makes me feel like freaking Nostradamus.

This morning, I saw Jeff Good making that pivot. Here’s a screen grab from his Facebook page:

We need to eat. His employees need to eat. And this isn’t an ad for Jeff’s restaurants,  it’s an ad for all restaurants — and an example of how we can adjust to the new abnormal normal. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan had a great idea (I shared it a couple of days ago): Buy a gift card from your favorite restaurant. Give them the cash flow they need.

But Jeff’s actions are also an example of flattening the other curve (and doing what he has to do for survival).


My question of the day is this: How are you explaining this to your kids?

Mine are 19, 17 and 12 and are very savvy about current events. But I still feel like it is up us as parents to make sure they understand the context of what is happening. Here are a few of the responses I’ve gotten so far.

David: I don’t have to. They are explaining it to me!

StaceyReminding him whenever possible that everyone is doing what they can to help others, and that’s why we’re staying home. And that he still has to brush his teeth.

Dominga: My 13- and 10-year-old are currently visiting dad in another state for their long spring break. They’re due back this week and we are wrestling with whether they should fly home or not. They are excited for the adventure, regardless, but we are all concerned about their health and schooling.
Fortunately(?), their school is switching to online-only after a third week of spring break was added. We are staying optimistic and positive and reminding them to continue our usual hygiene practices. If we stay calm, hopefully, they will, too.

Clay: We’ve watched so many zombie shows and movies I think they’ve been expecting this day. My daughter will see a house on a hill and start explaining its tactical advantage if a hoard of zombies comes.

Tanya: My 4 yo granddaughter had to
Leave her bear at home for the first time in her life. Her mom explained that is was so bear didn’t get sick and none of her friends get sick. ??

Andy: With snark and humor via text and messsenger, but she’s 22 and on her own, so that’s how we relate.

Shannon: It’s hard because we are keeping ours pretty separated but the kids in our neighborhood are having free play time: basketball and baseball and bike rides and dips in the pool. “That’s too much sharing and close contact right now.” She’s old enough to understand, but is super sad. This normal has no explanation, far as I can understand. I just tell her we are figuring it all out together. It won’t last forever, and in the meantime, we have work to do and it’s okay to be sad.

Jeremy: I explain to my kids that there is little danger to them, but we need to do what we can to help and protect others. My daughter is still scared to go out of the house at all. The fear is hard to combat. I just try to stay rational and reinforce to her that she’s going to be fine.

Summer: I find myself telling them this is not vacation but have yet to get them on a regular schedule. My 15 year old rolls her eyes every time I mention “pandemic”.

If you have anything to add, leave a comment in the comment sections below. I’d love to hear from you.

And check out Mississippi Today’s COVID-19 Coverage.

Today’s story about the Legislature shutting down is particularly good. 

Take our 2023 reader survey

Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.